Parents wishing to help their children deal with bullying, gangs and drugs soon will have ways to learn more about those issues.
A series of parent forums sponsored by the Columbia County Alternative School and the county Juvenile Court starts this evening with a discussion on bullying.
Forums on gangs and substance abuse will be held March 14 and April 25, respectively.
Leading the discussion on bullying will be Juvenile Court Probation Officer Kari Poss, who conducts a similar program for pupils at area elementary and middle schools.
“It’s just something we need,” Poss said of the bullying forum. “The parents don’t know how to deal with it. They don’t know how to handle it when their children are being bullied online.”
Before the Internet and mobile phones, bullying typically was limited to school hours, at least offering victims a respite at home.
“I went to Harlem (High) in the (1980s) and we had bullies, but at 3:30 (p.m.) it was over,” Poss said. “Now, it’s a continuous thing. These kids are never away from it.
“It doesn’t stop at school anymore. They (children) get it on their cell phones. They get it on Facebook. So the bullying going on at school carries on when they get home.”
In a survey of 472 Harlem Middle School pupils Poss conducted last year, 47 percent noted that they had been bullied either physically, socially, verbally or electronically within the past year.
“That’s scary,” she said, adding that she believes surveys conducted at other schools would show similar results.
In her presentation, Poss said, she’ll discuss the various forms of bullying, the signs parents should look for if they suspect their children are victims of bullies, and what they need to do to stop it.
All the forums will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held in the media center at Grovetown Middle School, 5463 Harlem-Grovetown Road.